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How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You

How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You

4.3 3
by Ralph Fletcher

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The Secret of Writing

Its misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using


The Secret of Writing

Its misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer

... Revealed!

There is no secret. But there is a process. If you like to write, there are definite steps you can take to help you reach your goals. Good writing isn't forged by magic or hatched out of thin air. Good writing happens when human beings follow particular steps to take control o their sentences-to make their words do what they want them to do.

This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you

Editorial Reviews

This charming little book offers a solid, user-friendly introduction to the fundamental steps of the writing process. Fletcher uses a clear and simple prose style to lead young readers through the creative writing process, from generating an idea and writing the first draft, to rereading and revising, to proofreading, editing, and publishing. Along the way, he discusses the importance of finding a suitable place to write, strategies for brainstorming, and methods of overcoming writer's block. Also included are several author interviews to provide alternative approaches to the writing process as well as a bibliography of recommended fiction and writing-related nonfiction. Although the book is aimed at a pre-YA audience, beginning writers of any age may find inspiration in the practical strategies and encouraging sentiments set forth in this simple but elegant guide. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, HarperTrophy, 114p, bibliog, 20cm, 00-27573, $4.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Jeffrey Cooper; Writer/Editor, Long Island, NY, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Fletcher focuses on the different ways professionals and students create a solid piece of writing. In the introduction, he states that there is no secret formula, though he manages to sustain the tone of one imparting a secret throughout the book. Processes such as brainstorming, rough drafts, rereading and revising, proofreading, and publishing are demystified through examples of students' writing and interviews with children's authors. The style is conversational and the suggestions are general. The book doesn't cover specifics of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Instead, it suggests that any piece of writing could become any one of these with a sufficient amount of work. The book makes youngsters feel good about their writing without making light of the work involved. Numerous mentions of the author's previous works begin to grate as the book progresses, as does the self-referential "Selected Reading" list appended. Still, this is a useful resource. It is not a replacement for but a good companion to Marion Dane Bauer's still excellent What's Your Story? (Clarion, 1992).-Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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File size:
276 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Place Where Words Can Grow

I keep pens and pencils within reach wherever I am. My favorite writing spot is in my bed.
— Jerdine Nolan

Lately I've been feeling unsettled. Shook up. Discombobulated. I'm smack in the midst of moving myself and my family from Alabama to New Hampshire. We are renting a home while our new house is being built. Most of our furniture, books, and clothes are still packed in boxes.

In some ways I don't have much to complain about. I'm writing in a large, airy office with windows on three sides that look out into the forest. It's a nice room, a great office, except for one small thing—it's not my space.

The books on all the bookshelves are someone else's books. The desk, light, rug, easy chair, photos on the wall belong to someone else. Right now all my personal belongings are packed up in boxes. I'm writing here, but I'm counting the days until I can write in my own space, surrounded by my own stuff.

Walk into a restaurant and your stomach starts to growl. Walk into a gym and your body prepares to sweat while you exercise. Our brains are conditioned to know what to expect in particular spaces.

The same thing is true about writing.

Your writing place doesn't have to be a spacious office with windows looking out at the forest. It could be an easy chair in a corner of a room or a breakfast nook in the kitchen. It could be a place in the woods where you can lean back against a tree or rock. You may have to try out several different writing places before you settle on one that feels right.

Many people write best when they are away fromall the distractions of home. Some people like to write in a noisy cafeteria; others need a quiet place like a library. I like public places where I can write surrounded by strangers babbling around me. Airplanes are okay, but I usually get squashed between two huge people. I need to be able to stretch out.

I love writing in rooms with tall ceilings and huge windows. I also like to write while sitting by a window in a busy coffee shop. Somehow the combination of the talk, the coffee smell, the sunlight pouring over me and my notebook make it a great place for me to write.

“Writing is so compact, so portable, so easy to take with me wherever I go,” says Jerdine Nolan, author of Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm and other books. “I hardly ever write at a desk, but there are times when I have to. I like to write in unexpected places like airports, train stations, the passenger seat of a moving car, on trains or planes. I like the idea of sitting still while I'm moving very fast. Seeing scenery flash by me is also very stimulating. For a while I even wrote in a very small closet!”

One way to make your writing place comfortable is to surround yourself with the things that help you write. I set up my office so I have certain objects around me when I work: crystals I've dug up, trilobite fossils, sand dollars, an owl pellet somebody sent me. On the wall I've hung a photograph of me when I was five years old, my brother Jim was four, Elaine was three, Tom was two, Bobby was one. These things remind me of roots—not only my family roots but also deep roots of ancient life on this planet.

I like to have certain books within easy reach when I write. I use books (novels and poetry) for inspiration. Other books (dictionary, thesaurus, and a book on grammar and usage) are important resources, too. When I'm putting words to paper I like to know that there are plenty of other words close by.Find a place that feels right. Get a good place to sit. If you're outside, get a clipboard so you have something solid to write on. Make sure you have what you need to start writing. These may seem like small details, but I have found they matter a great deal. Just as a carpenter has tools particular to his or her trade, so does a writer—pens, a notebook, paper. If you have these tools in your writing place, you won't have to go rummaging around when it's time to write. Everything you need will be right where you want it.

When you come right down to it, you are the place where your words will grow. But most writers find it invaluable to have a regular writing place, a physical space, where they can water and weed a garden of words.

Meet the Author

Ralph Fletcher has always been a special person for children's literature. He is the author of picture books, nonfiction, and novels for young readers. How to Write Your Life Story is the fifth book in Mr. Fletcher's series of instructional writing books, which includes A Writer's Notebook, Live Writing, How Writers Work, and Poetry Matters. Mr. Fletcher lives with his family in New Hampshire.

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How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi,I want to be a writer when I grow up and I found this delight-full book here in the nook shop.life changer.better buy it if you want to be a writer.there's this other book by ralph fletcher called a writer's notebook,I want to buy it but I'm broke.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago